Feeds

back to article Why new iPad renders your pile of slab mags as garbage

The pixel-dense screen on the new iPad - which makes high-resolution photos of flowers pop and delight - actually renders a lot of things rather badly, specifically old copies of tablet-based magazines and other made-for-iPad content stored as PNG image files. The latest retina display screen displays old content worse than …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

I've been playing Ultimate Soccer Manager '98 in Dosbox and at the time it looked splendid, but on my 24" monitor looks a bit dated.

I know you didn't really pass comment on the issue itself, only pointing out it exists, but things change, reprint them or live with it. Besides everything was better in S-VGA.

5
2
Anonymous Coward

heat probs

No not on mine....

As to slab mags , I buy them so I can pass them on afterwards.

2
4
Anonymous Coward

Re: heat probs

@AC 06:50. Did you reply to the first post, with something not related to it, just so you could get your comment near the top?

2
0
JDX
Gold badge

WHY does it look worse?

It's 2:1 resolution mapping so what is going wrong? Does it really look worse, or just worse in comparison to everything else looking so pretty?

6
0

Re: WHY does it look worse?

A more accurate title would be "The new iPad renders does not render old mag content any better".

I'm no fan of the iPad (or any tablet really, don't like the form factor). The "Retina" display though should not be ridiculed. In a computer age that most companies are thinking profit before resolution, the iPad display is refreshing.

If someone made a netbook sized device with ultra portable innards (ie non atom) and a 1080P screen (no need to be light, or incredibly thin), I'd be on it in a flash. Yes, I like high res, yes, I can't see individual pixels on a device that small, but I CAN notice a significant difference in fidelity on high pixel density screens.

2
1

Re: WHY does it look worse?

Correct, it's only worse by comparison. Everyone might as well start fixing things up for high resolution now, because it's only a matter of time before this kind of pixel density becomes standard. Nothing to do with the iPad 3 per se; it was going to happen anyway. (Say hello to higher bandwidth usage!)

3
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: WHY does it look worse?

Upscaling 2:1 is never going to look as nice or contain as much detail as if the bitmaps had been rendered at full size in the first place. You either get blocky pixels and jaggies, or you have to smooth it and get a slightly blurry effect; there's no kind of post-processing that can actually put extra spatial information into an image that wasn't there in the first place.

2
1
JDX
Gold badge

it's only a matter of time before this kind of pixel density becomes standard

Why? We've been able to do this resolution on desktop PCs for probably a decade but nobody has driven it to happen in the mainstream. And on such a small screen as the iPad it remains to be seen if this becomes the norm, or a bit of a gimmick.

2
0
JDX
Gold badge

Upscaling 2:1 is never going to look as nice

I don't think that's the case. Since the resolution is exactly 2X in each dimension, 1 pixel on the iPad2 is exactly replaced by a 2x2 block on the new one. If you simply colour all 4 of those tiny pixels the same colour, shouldn't it be identical?

The only way it wouldn't is if the rendering is doing fancy trickery which blurs the pixels in an attempt to upscale rather than simply resize the image.

7
0
AF
Meh

Re: it's only a matter of time before this kind of pixel density becomes standard

"Why? We've been able to do this resolution on desktop PCs for probably a decade but nobody has driven it to happen in the mainstream. "

You've answered your own question there. We've been able to do video calling on mobiles for over a decade, we've had decent PDAs for even longer, and useful app stores too - but it's only once Apple have got involved that they've taken off and been adopted by the masses.

Same thing will happen here.

3
3

Re: WHY does it look worse?

I've noticed it's actually worse to render. On my trusty ipad 1, issues of Future Music were quick to load/transition. On the ipad 3, the pages comes in like an episode of blockbusters. Once it's fully loaded, it looks as good as before.

Of course, the annoying thing about magazines is they are all their own app, rather than a standard interface like ibooks.

1
0

Re: WHY does it look worse?

Are you sure you're responding to what the commenter has in mind?

The ipad 3 screen is the same physical size, but 2:1 resolution. Hence pixels are the same ratio smaller. Upscaling the image exactly 2:1 brings the upscaled pixels to the same real-world size as previous screen's pixels.

I think that's what people mean. Getting the ipad 3 to display something exactly like the ipad 2 should be easy.

1
0
Holmes

Re: WHY does it look worse?

Rubbish. I've seen movies - just use the same software the FBI does that allows them to automagically enhance blurry satellite photos to reveal perfect detail each time. You might have to zoom in several times saying "enhance" each time, but it works brilliantly.

6
0
Silver badge

Re: Upscaling 2:1 is never going to look as nice

Re-read what you just wrote, then apply some actual thinking to it. You have actually described the exact reason why it is GUARANTEED to look worse.

0
3

Re: WHY does it look worse?

While this is factually true, you should be careful not to underestimate how much spatial information is in an image. For instance, by analyzing a rasterized line it is possible to determine the original line coordinates with enough accuracy to re-render the line in higher-res. Many anti-aliasing algorithms on PS3 / X360 do exactly this, rather than render at high-res in the first place, and while not perfect they work damnably well.

2
0
Happy

Re: it's only a matter of time before this kind of pixel density becomes standard

you answered your own question. Because now people have it, and consequently want it everywhere, whereas before you could get away with "no one else is doing it, why would we risk risk financial ruin".

0
0
Thumb Up

Re: WHY does it look worse?

Had to upvote you for the the word "damnably".

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: WHY does it look worse?

Okay, so it "looks slower" but not worse.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: WHY does it look worse?

Agreed. I even went to the source article, which clearly states that the content looks worse on the new screen vs. the old one, but does not give a hint of explanation re: HOW or WHY it looks "worse."

Shoddy.

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: WHY does it look worse?

I think the articles refer to the bilinear/trilinear filter the OS applies to images when upscaling.

It gets rid of the "jaggies", but makes everything blurrier.

0
0

Re: it's only a matter of time before this kind of pixel density becomes standard

As I said, only a matter of time: http://liliputing.com/2012/04/intel-retina-laptop-desktop-displays-coming-in-2013.html

0
0

Consumer Reports are such haterz. What's it take to get a Magical rating these days, anyway?

Upscaling isn't exactly rocket science, is it? Especially for a simple case like x2.

5
6
Anonymous Coward

Mostly excuses to mask the simple fact that an easy to use publishing tool for e-magazines is not out yet.

Publishers want to press a button in InDesign and out comes a nicely package they can send to the app store. Unfortunately what comes out now is a bit rubbish (even the PDF output - keep in mind PDF is still a programming language and we all know how bad auto-generated code can be)

I'm sure Adobe is working on this already, but right now the market is just full of mostly crappy tools.

The font cost however is true, licensing a commercial font for embedding into an app can cost from $200 to over $1000. But still I don't see how that' would be a problem for any of the large publishers.

That's not much more than the cost of a couple of Adobe software licenses.

There's also free fonts (eg SIL Open font licensed) for those publications that can't afford the commercial ones.

0
0
Bronze badge
Boffin

ClearType?

Microsoft have this technology called ClearType. I'm not sure what Apple's version is called. It's a technique for font-smoothing which relies on the fact that the R, G, and B pixels in a flat-panel display are always in a certain order. By applying light colour to the edge of text, they can make a font appear smoother and crisper.

If the PNGs were designed with ClearType in mind, then they would definitely look worse when upscaled to retina display.

You can see the font-smoothing in Windows by taking a screen capture, pasting it into e.g. Paint.net, then zooming in to the captured image. You'll see odd faint colours around the edges of letters.

6
8
Silver badge

Re: ClearType?

RISC OS has done that for nigh on a quarter century... If you ask me, Windows still doesn't do it right.

5
0
WTF?

Re: ClearType?

Not sure what made you choose the 'technical content' icon, since your post is almost wholly incorrect. Worse, you don't actually seem to understand the difference between a bitmap and anti-aliased fonts.

Please tell us how we're supposed to "design PNGs with ClearType in mind"...

3
5
Silver badge
Boffin

Re: ClearType?

'Please tell us how we're supposed to "design PNGs with ClearType in mind"...'

Simples. When you render the text into the bitmap (remember, we're talking about bitmaps of magazine pages -- they usually have some text in them) and you use a system that uses ClearType or an equivalent, the text will have the color-element-based anti-aliasing applied. Saving that to a PNG will preserve the color pixels but not the reason for them, so a PNG renderer which needs to scale the bitmap (say by 2x) and does not include its own intelligent raster-based antialiasing routine which can properly blend the extraneous color information, will make the text look somewhat more colorful than it should.

Incidentally, tablets will be especially susceptible to this, since, when the tablet is in native orientation, the pixels will be likely be in R G B sequence, but at 90 degrees counter-clockwise (or anticlockwise, if you like), the pixels will be in

R

G

B

sequence. Furthermore, at 180 degrees, the pixels will be in B G R sequence, and at 270 degrees, you'll get

B

G

R

order. These rotations will make any ClearType-style anti-aliasing look very wrong.

In short, as Buzzword correctly pointed out, ClearType is definitely not designed for tablets to begin with, and if it were used on the systems generating the PNGs to begin with, it would generate bitmaps which would not look good on 3/4 of a tablet's possible rotations to begin with, and which would not scale well. I'm sorry his post was too complicated for you to figure out, but that is why we have the "technical content" icon.

8
5
FAIL

Re: ClearType?

@Steve Knox, Buzzword and any other dingnuts out there.

Too. Much. Stupid.

ClearType has NOTHING to do with rendering PNGs. It has everything to do with rendering (wait for it...) type! Live type that is being rendered by the OS in an application. Not type that's already been flattened into a bitmap image like a PNG. The antialiasing on that text will have been done by whatever graphics software created the image in the first place. Since this is most likely to be Adobe's rendering engine (such as that in Photoshop), I can assure you the antialiasing routines do not match the output of ClearType on Windows or Quartz on OS X - this is a well-known issue that will cause most web designers in the world to start twitching if you mention it to them.

I have no idea what you think an "intelligent raster-based antialiasing routine" is but iOS has OpenGL, have you heard of it? Good luck using any other antialising method on a pixel-based display that isn't raster based. Good grief.

Your whole diversion into the order of RGB elements and subpixel antialiasing is just too La-La to even bother with.

The issue here is really simple, and quite frankly it's the author of the lousy article that's really at fault here. Instead of doing things properly, digital magazine publishers just dumped their publications out as a series of whole-page bitmaps (which incidentally often made each issue an eye-watering download) and now it's come to bite them on the ass because they were too short-sighted in their choice of publishing platform.

A higher-resolution display making lower-resolution images look crappy?

I'm shocked, SHOCKED I tell you.

16
15
Stop

Re: ClearType?

Jeez Ian, who peed in your cornflakes? There's no need to be rude to posters simply trying to explain something- if you see it differently feel free to state your opinion in a rational way.

The way I read the ClearType posts was that if a graphics house translated a ClearType-rendered page into a static PNG, assuming that most people would read it in a particular orientation on a particular device, it would look shit on newer multi-rotation hi-res screens. ClearType rendering is supposed to be dynamic when used correctly, but when publishers take shortcuts and 'freeze' this rendered text into a PNG it's lazy and asking for trouble.

16
5
Silver badge

Re: ClearType?

Ah, just like X11 does, then.

Arthur (the prototype for RiscOS) was doing the same thing IMMSMC.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: ClearType?

Fuck me... I have no idea what any of you are on about.

0
0
Boffin

Re: ClearType?

No it hasn't. RISC OS used traditionally-anti-aliased fonts, displayed on CRT. ClearType uses the precise positioning of the different colour cells within a pixel to get 3x actual horizontal resolution (plus slightly odd discolouration). It only works on LCD screens, and it was invented by Microsoft late enough in the game that RISC OS was already a distant memory.

1
0
Silver badge

Re: ClearType? (@Eddie Edwards)

There's actually an allusion to what is effectively ClearType in the Atari Lynx system manual, presumably because some marketing person wanted an excuse to claim three times the horizontal resolution. So it's an idea that was definitely out there in the ether long before Microsoft actually did something useful with it and during the RISC OS period.

You're right though — I don't think RISC OS actually used anything like that technology. I bet almost no-one ever even connected an Archimedes to a colour LCD screen during its production lifetime.

2
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: ClearType?

PNGs can contain text, right? (As bitmaps.)

So something had to render the text into the PNGs.

That text renderer could easily have been ClearType or similar.

It's funny that you're being insulting and calling everybody else stupid when you have missed their (fairly simple) point entirely.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: ClearType?

Good theory (and the first plausible one I've read) about why it might look worse.

Apple doesn't use ClearType. If you zoom in on text rendered on a Mac, you'll see it's just grayscale.

Personally I find ClearType to be a bunch of BS. I feel like I can easily see the "color fringing" as it's called in Wikipedia. I understand the theory behind it but am extremely dubious that in a scientific study, people would prefer ClearType to regular antialiasing.

0
0
Silver badge
Happy

Re: ClearType? @ Eddie

Hey Eddie, long time no see! ;-)

While ClearType is aimed specifically to optimising the display for LCDs, it isn't that unlike the sub-pixel hinting that RISC OS is capable of. That, plus the slightly more recent ability to take into account background patterns (instead of a solid colour as in the mid 80s) plus the ability to render legible text at silly-small sizes makes it a good combination. Readable 4pt text on top of a picture of Alyson Hannigan? No problems. I recently used a simple BASIC program to place text (signs, t-shirt logos and such) into a PlayMobile photo. The hard part was working out the rotations, but I'm a dunce at maths anyway. Results? Subjective, but I believe better than my PhotoShop-alike (on the PC) could have managed...

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Time to move on then

Geesh.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Lazy publishers, Silly subscribers

If I'd been daft enough to pay for a subscription to a digital ad pamphlet magazine, I'd hopefully still have had enough gumption to demand a refund, when the first issue landed [heavily!] on my virtual doorstep and revealed itself to be a series of gigantic fucking PNG files, rather than a properly constructed PDF.

And the reason given for producing these mags in such a crap format?.... according to the article, so the "page turn" effect would work better. That's like putting square wheels on a car, so it looks more hi-tech.

7
0
Silver badge

Re: Lazy publishers, Silly subscribers

I wouldn't say PNG was a crap format, by any means. Just be thankful it wasn't handed out in JPEG.

2
0
Boffin

Re: Lazy publishers, Silly subscribers

Due to the way PNG Compression works I'd imagine they'd be pretty tiny PNG files.

PNG is very good at producing small files where the number of colours/shades are low whilst keeping the data lossless.

It seems to me there's two possible problems - either the original PNG's were not saved with enough detail or the IPad is rendering them badly.

PNG itself is a great format. Agree with the other chap. JPG's are much worse for this type of image.

1
1
Bronze badge

Re: Lazy publishers, Silly subscribers

It's actually that the image was rendered for one display, and being shown on a different one.

It does not matter if you use PNG, JPG or whatever, if it's a static format and not PDF/fonts your rendering it will face problems when up scaling.

Especially if your rendering "sub pixels". So if your PNG, JPG or whatever has subpixels and you don't redraw it for the IPad 3, it will now show the wrong subpixels for that new screen. Subpixels are usually screen dependant. :(

0
0

Re: Lazy publishers, Silly subscribers

@TechBen

While I get what you're saying the surely however the image is physically not being displayed bigger - so as long as there is sufficient resolution in the PNG file no problems should be noticeable. Just the same as if you zoom in on such a graphic on any other display.

Bitmaps aren't normally targetted at certain devices they are just saved with a certain resolution.

Otherwise every website which uses PNG/JPG files to display (but obviously not render) vector type graphics would look bad on the IPad 3.

0
1
Silver badge

Re: Lazy publishers, Silly subscribers

Eh, yes and no. PDF will help you on the font displays, but for a magazine I expect there to be pictures. Hell, even El Reg has pictures and they aren't exactly what we're talking about are they? Once you introduce pictures, you are back to some sort of bit mapped graphic. Once you are in bit maps, everything has the potential to get clunky, both in terms of download speed and display. PNG is probably a bit better than JPEG, but it still won't scale like a vector image.

0
0
Silver badge

@Mr ChriZ: Please buy a clue.

Bit maps are ALWAYS targeted at a specific resolution, and by implication device size display. You don't notice it if you are in the current sweet spot for the resolution spread in the market. Even websites are targeted at certain display resolutions. Better website designers include information for multiple sizes, and I expect some software packages help optimize being able to generate the multiple size layouts, but it's been ages since I looked at those programs.

1
0
Meh

Re: @Mr ChriZ: Please buy a clue.

I've produced a skin for a Media Application with a couple of hundred PNG files integrated into it produced primarily from Vectors. I'm quite aware each PNG file has a set resolution where as obviously a vector should scale to any size. I can see that obviously if each pixel is 1 to 1 with the screen you're guaranteed to be displaying it at it's best quality. However I'm also aware that for many years we've had the ability to stretch images over as many pixels as we want. (Otherwise we wouldn't be able to display an image on the back of a camera and on a 27" screen). Normally it doesn't produce too problems as long as you don't stretch it/zoom in to far.

As the IPad's resolution is supposedly beyond retina level then you'd think doubling the pixels like this shouldn't cause any issues - it certainly shouldn't really make it worse than displaying it on the original IPad.

I make no attempt to claim to be some genius in these matters but I believe I have a clue.

0
0
Holmes

Re: Lazy publishers, Silly subscribers

Agreed, that PNG is a great format –especially when producing graphics for the web. It combines all the 'features' of GIF and JPEG and in addition offers full alpha channel transparency. However, I'd disagree about file size. One of the reasons I don't use PNG for all the images I produce for online use is exactly that the filesize is nearly always a lot bigger, compared to a similar quality GIF or JPEG.

However, the main point I was trying to make was that rendering text via any form of bitmap graphic is shoddy beyond belief. Using the PDF format will allow for 'real' embedded text that scales and anti-aliases properly, combined with bitmaps for the actual images, with several compression options available. The result is generally a smaller file, a more readable file, a more scalable file and a better printing file.

It is, as the saying goes, a "no-brainer".

0
0
Thumb Up

Re: Lazy publishers, Silly subscribers

The electronic magazine publisher I prefer, Zinio, uses single page PDFs for each page of the magazine so they should be give a good rendering.

Note that I've only seen this on Android, so the other formats (iPad, iPhone, PC, MAC) could be using different file formats.

0
0
Silver badge
WTF?

All this talk of how badly it renders PNG's

And no pictures?

3
0
Anonymous Coward

Stop grumbling about the iPad excess heat...

My bed-warmer (digital hot water bottle) app will be available shortly.

0
0
Silver badge
Thumb Up

Re: Stop grumbling about the iPad excess heat...

That's not a bad idea actually, get it to run a very CPU and GPU intensive routine rendered off screen, with a comforting full screen image of a water bottle.

3
0

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.